If you have a masonry wall or a brick home, there are a few things you should know to keep the brick and mortar in the best possible shape. While there are many homes where the masonry work wasn’t completed as it should have been, there are others where the age of the masonry work is responsible for the new problems.
Repair Masonry in Warmer Weather
Repairs to masonry work need to be completed when the weather is warm. The materials used to repair masonry need to cure properly and warmer weather is needed in order for this to occur. There are several reasons why masonry repairs may be needed, including the freezing and thawing of water in the porous brick and mortar. Even stones are not immune to the freezing and thawing cycle. The mortar that holds the stones in place will need to be restored and protected.
Annual Inspections Locate Many Problems
One way that homeowners can know that repairs are needed to their masonry is when they find mortar or other rubble falling into their yards. Annual inspections are very important, as there are many problems that can be found. These problems can include cracks, loose cement joints, masonry degradation, loose stones and missing bricks. Inspections can locate these problems, as well as problems specific to chimneys, including flashing that needs to be replaced, a crown that must be repaired and the need for crickets or saddles.
Masonry chimneys deteriorate due to a lack of maintenance, poor construction, wind and water damages. The water damage that occurs is due to the porous nature of the materials. As the water freezes and thaws, the bricks and mortar expand and contract, causing cracks and other damage.
Historic Homes Require Historic Repairs
In many historic homes, the mortar and brick repair will need to be carefully considered. Replacement of these materials will need to be done so that the bricks and mortar are a match to the historic bricks and mortar. There are many historic home salvage companies that can provide similar materials so that any repairs that are completed do not detract from the home’s beauty. In order to match the mortar, choose an area that hasn’t been exposed to the elements. The mortar may appear a bit different at first, but over time, the mortar color will change and “catch up” with the current mortar. If you use a new mortar matched to the color of the old mortar and the building is cleaned, the new mortar will continue to look old and the old mortar will look new.
Many historic homes have had treatments in the past to protect the masonry. These include limewash, stucco, penciling and colorwash. While these treatments were used as a decorative finish, they protected the masonry as well.
Painted brick can often affect how long masonry will last. Modern paints, such as latex, often trap moisture inside the brick and mortar, which can lead to the failure of masonry joints. If your brick home has been painted in the past, it may be worthwhile to remove the old paint before repainting the brick.
Good Masonry Can Last Over a Century
When masonry work and repairs are done correctly, and there is proper upkeep and care, it can last for more than a century. Having your masonry inspected each year will help protect your property investment and keep the masonry looking terrific.